The Dambusters, also known as Operation Chastise, was carried out by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II. The operation was conducted on the night of May 16-17, 1943, and its objective was to destroy 3 dams in Germany's industrial heartland, the Ruhr Valley.
The operation involved the use of a "bouncing bomb," designed by Barnes Wallis in Cumbria. The ingenious design enabled the bomb to skim across the water and explode when it hit the dam's wall, causing a breach, and flooding the surrounding areas.
The raid resulted in two dams being breached, causing widespread damage to the German industrial infrastructure, and disrupting their war effort. However, the operation also resulted in the loss of eight of the nineteen aircraft that participated in the raid, with 53 of the 133 crew members losing their lives.
The approach to the dams exposed attacking aircraft and had a variety of geographical challenges. The whole operation has become legendary involving highly skilled, pinpoint precision, and incredible bravery flying at just 60 feet above the water to fulfil their mission.
This 80th Anniversary year is marked with a poignant fly past over Lincolnshire by the iconic Lancaster. Although for many of us, it was almost within touching distance, it is the first time that there have been no veterans alive to commemorate the raids.
Squadron Leader George (Johnny) Johnson died aged 101 in December 2022. He was the last survivor of those who took part in the Dambusters’ raids.
Latterly, Johnny strongly supported the Bomber County Gateway Trust’s project to complete a commemorative landmark sculpture of a Lancaster Bomber at the heart of its Lincolnshire homeland:
“In May 2018 I was honoured to attend the Bomber County Gateway Trust’s turf-cutting ceremony as one of a group of veterans, which signified the start of this wonderful construction project. The Lancaster Bomber replica landmark, to be known as “On Freedom’s Wings” will be recognised as a symbol of the sacrifice made by nearly 58,000 men and women who served with Bomber Command. It will represent the pivotal role which the County of Lincolnshire played in the Second World War.
“I hope that this iconic art installation, situated on the Lincolnshire / Nottinghamshire border means as much to the people of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire as it does to me”. (George “Johnny” Johnson MBE, DFM, December 2018).
Peter Graham is one of the fundraisers behind the project and updated Motorfinity about this amazing ‘work in progress’:
“The Trust has recently completed manufacturing of a large section of the fuselage and has now procured the next tranche of steel for the tail section and hopes to commence manufacture very soon. Further donations are required to fund the wings and cladding and can be made via the website (bombegatewaytrust.co.uk). We would love to see this amazing project completed soon and are extremely grateful to all those who have donated money and services so far.”
We are looking forward to the completion of ‘On Freedom’s Wings’ and applaud all those who are working so hard to bring it to fruition.
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